The Washington Policy Center and Business Institute of Washington have commented on the state Legislature’s decision to make certain temporary tolls permanent on Interstate 405 and State Route 167. The bill, ESSB 5825, was awaiting Gov. Inslee’s signature earlier this week.
The Lens online news source of the Business Institute quoted legislators who said highway improvement projects could be sped up by making the tolls permanent. The bill authorizes issuing bonds to be paid back with the toll revenue.
A Policy Center blog criticized the vote. Author Mark Harmsworth wrote that the bill sets up a conflict between the Department of Transportation and the traveling public. If tolls are tied up in paying back long-term debt from bonds, he wrote, transportation officials would have to maintain gridlock in general purpose lanes to make their toll lanes look attractive in comparison.
Road capacity for freight and general purpose transportation is important to retailers for timely delivery of merchandise and consumers who can use online shopping to substitute for driving to brick-and-mortar stores. Click here to read the Lens piece and here to read the Policy Center blog.